We’ve done a lot of hiking the last few days. We’ve managed to find birds but nothing is a given with grouse hunting. Yesterday we killed 1 grouse apiece and between us we got several Woodcock. We are having a blast though. We’ve seen so much pretty ground, put a lot of miles on our boots, and some new nicks in our gun stocks.
From day one, I noticed Will incorporated a lot of technology into our hunts. We use GPS collars on the dogs, Google Earth, his iPhone and anything else to help us plan our hunts and hunt safely. The GPS collars do help us find the dogs on points in the thick brush but in way does that mean we have a better chance at killing birds. The GPS also helps us make sure our dogs are safe and not getting lost as dogs may do.
What I’ve also noticed is we are still planning our hunts and relying on some of the same things our fathers and grandfathers did. We both run bells on our dogs and pay A TON of attention to where the bells are, the cadence and rhythm to each bell, and of course when you don’t hear a bell. Every day, either on the pool table in our house or somewhere in the truck, we spend a lot of time looking at paper maps and timber records to find spots and plan hunts.
The timber records are especially important because grouse prefer timber growth that is between 10-20 years old with older and younger growth surrounding. This area is a hotspot for pulp timber for paper so the USDA issues maps that detail in color coding the age class of forest stands. These are our Bible.
We have access to thousands of acres of land. Coming from Cincinnati I forget how much land the government owns for our use and recreation. These lands are some of the same lands the timber and paper companies use for profit. If it weren’t for the timber operations the forests would all mature to the point that they no longer supported grouse and Woodcock. It is pretty mind-blowing to understand the scope of what can be hunted and fished up here and in other places in lour country. Might sound cliche, but this concept makes me very proud of our country.
In addition to lots of hunting, we have also tried to sample a bit of the local culture and cuisine. Yesterday we visited one of the best hardware stores I’ve ever been to. We found some great wool pants and hunting clothes we might go back for. Of course, we have also tried a few restaurants. The bar we ate lunch in today was pretty cool. Easy to see there is a huge muskie fishing culture around here.
We also ate at a “supper club” last night. We were both pretty curious as to the difference between a restaurant and a supper club. Food was good, atmosphere was a bit strange. We both laughed about it a bit. Turns out it is a mostly northwood phenomenon. I think it gives people something to do up here about January. Of course, once we saw this six-pack, we each had to get one.